Set in the West Side of New York in 1957, this musical drama is based on William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The feuding houses of the Montagues and Capulets replaced by the Puerto Rican gang of the Sharks and the Polish American gang the Jets, who battle for respect and control of the streets.
With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim this musical is woven with songs that have become well known and loved, since the show was first performed on Broadway 60 years ago.
So, I think it is fair to say that creative directors Rachel and Leon Davies, had a mammoth task on their hands when staging a production of this iconic piece of musical theatre. They have succeeded magnificently.
The sets consisting of bleak buildings with rusty fire escapes, grim brick walls adorned with graffiti, the sparse furniture of Doc’s shop, combined with the costumes of the era transports the viewer back to 1950s West Side New York.
The orchestra under the leadership of Musical Director Tom Porter bought this famous score to life with gusto and professionalism.
Beth Berwick-Lowe’s (Maria) beautiful soprano voice soared through the auditorium as she delivered song after song perfectly. Fleur Petford’s dancing and vocal ability combine perfectly to create a very strong performance as Anita. In the number ‘A boy like that’ sung by Maria and Anita, the voices of Petford and Berwick- Lowe, harmonised perfectly together, creating a beautiful moment in the show.
There is a lot of young talent in this company; Chole Rampton as Velma shone, particularly during the dance routines. Oliver Keeling gave a very mature performance as Action; James Bastable as Baby John had excellent stage presence.
Gee Officer Krupke! was for us the stand out number of the production, performed by the Jets all younger members of the company; Oliver Keeling(Action), Benjamin Bullock (A- Rab), James Bastable (Baby John), Richard Cooper (Diesel), Zak Hayes (Big Deal). The excellent chemistry between the Jets combining with strong vocal and acting performances created a piece that, in our opinion, would not be out of place on any professional stage.
This was our first experience of a TAB operatic company production, we know it will not be our last, and we look forward to their next production in 2019.
West Side story at Stourbridge Town Hall from 6th – 10th March 2018. Visit The TAB to find out more information on the company.
Theatretastic rating 4/5:
We say: “A fourtastic rating for a vibrant production of West Side Story from a company with a wealth of young talent.”